5 Money lessons from Shakespeare

The Momentum UK Team 23 April 2014

The 23rd of April is William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday! Despite his grand old age, Britain’s favourite bard remains as culturally relevant as ever, as revealed by a new survey by the British Council. When 5,000 young adults from different countries were asked to name someone they associated with UK arts and culture, Shakespeare came top - followed by the Queen and David Beckham.

To celebrate his birthday and prove that his words of wisdom are still relevant today, we’ve picked out 5 Shakespeare quotes that could teach you something about your finances.

“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” - Othello

Iago doesn’t realise it, but in this line he’s actually talking about sound investment strategy. Because investing should be considered a medium to long term commitment, it’s important not to panic at the first sign of a drop in the market. Before making the decision to disinvest, it’s important to consider your investment goals and long term plan. Check out our guide to investing for beginners for more information.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” - Hamlet

It is important to remember that, when Hamlet was written, there was no such thing as a credit card or a mortgage! Of course, it’s extremely difficult to avoid ALL borrowing - it’s basically impossible if you want to go to university or own a home - but there is something to be said for Polonius’s words. It’s important not to let borrowing get out of control; if you find that you’re relying on credit to pay for essentials, it may be time to take a look at your budget and possibly adjust your spending. As for being a lender, you may well find that lending money to friends is a recipe for disaster!

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on” - Othello

Jealousy led Othello to tragedy, but what impact could it have on your finances? Spending time - and money - worrying about how you compare to others can be disastrous; it’s much better to focus on tidying up your own finances before you rush out to buy the latest flashy gadget. Taking the time to save for something special will be more worthwhile in the long run.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” - As You Like It

We may not like to admit it, but it’s impossible to know everything! Knowing when to ask for help is especially important when it comes to financial decisions; wanting to seem clever could end up costing you a fortune! If you ever feel unsure about a major decision - about anything from investing to mortgages - you should consider taking expert financial advice.

“He that dies pays all debts” - The Tempest

There is a common misconception that, when you die, your debts are written off. Unfortunately this is not strictly the case; any remaining debts will be taken from the value of your estate before anything is paid out to your family or other beneficiaries. Depending on the value of your estate, you may also be liable for Inheritance Tax. Planning ahead can help you reduce the impact of Inheritance Tax on your loved ones, giving you peace of mind.

Happy Birthday William, from everyone at!

What are your favourite lines from Shakespeare? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch on Twitter @YourWealthUK!